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The Triple Sequence
Issuing in Disobedience, Delinquency and Death
Unfaithfulness Sleeps the Sleep of Death
The Will of God is Witlessly Surrendered for the Luxury
of Spiritual Indolence
CATEGORIES AND CAPITULATION
What has this to do with the near return of Jesus Christ who having avoided sin, averted judgment for those who believe in Him, and activated a salvation never to die, comes like the dew on the dry grass, to end this Age ?
It has much. In our last chapter, there was a link closely seen, between the lashings of evil deeds, and the languishing of spirit, the cooling of love, indeed love becoming COLD! There were outcomes as well.
Let us now consider further ONE of these, that of NOT DOING THE WILL OF GOD.
Ponder these words of Christ in John 14:22-23:
Jesus answered and said to him,
"If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
"He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me."
Since as we have seen in some
depth and detail in Ch. 5, LOVE IS TO GROW COLD, as iniquity abounds in this
last phase of our Age, then what follows from the words of Christ seen above :
that they will not keep His word. There will be a realised rampancy in deviating from, disavowing, and in any case, not DOING the will of God, not KEEPING His word. Those who love Him, DO keep His word, with the consequences of divine comradeship which Christ depicted; those who do NOT love Him, do not keep His words. That is precisely what He says.
Find someone who keeps them, he loves Him. Yet find someone who does not love Him ? HOW could you tell ? Just find someone who does not keep His words, and you have found your man, your person. ALL who love Him DO; ANY who don't (14:23), don't love Him. This follows directly from 14:22, Christ's positive statement.
Now take, however, for instruction, the negative proposition in John 14:23. It may prove instructive to follow this through.
Here is anyone who does not love Him. Such people do not keep His words (plural). That is Christ's statement. Thus anyone who does not keep His words does not love Him ? Does that follow from this negative proposition in 14:23 ? Someone may say this: Surely those who do not love Him, do not keep His words; but this is not the same as saying this, that those who do not keep His words do not love Him. There could be other classes of persons who do not keep His words. Even if ALL who do not love Him, do not keep His words (and this is contained in Christ's negative utterance, since it brings it down to the single case, the one who does not love, does not keep), there could be other persons or categories of people who do not keep His words.
This is undoubtedly true, as far as the negative proposition of 14:23 is concerned: thus those who do not believe in Him, reject Him do not keep His words, since the wrath of God abides on them (John 3:15-36); and ONE of His words is this, that you should believe in Him (John 5:39-40), and one of His greatest indignations is this, that you reject the offer of eternal life, costly as it was (John 8:44ff.). But do not those who do not believe in Him, ALSO not love Him ? Do you love a bogus, a liar, a fraud, or some combination, as such unbelief in the face of His light would imply if you think ? (Cf. SMR Ch. 6 which shows the folly of such views, but people do not always think; and when they do, they are often subverted.)
After all, if you do not love Him, you do not keep His words, which require such love, and thus do not believe in Him, for His words acclaim what He presents; so that all who are not loving Him are not believing in Him, thus embracing all of THAT category. What then ? If you do not love Him, you do not keep His words; if you do not believe in Him, you do not keep His words. You confront Him instead; and He confronts you. Indeed there is no category of person who DOES NOT love Him, who DOES keep His words. It is faith which brings love and love obedience where the kingdom of heaven is concerned (I John 4:19). That is the sort of obedience that it is. It is not some other kind!
Indeed, and further, as I John 4:7-11 tells us: if you do not love, you do not know God, which is to have eternal life (John 17:1-3); and whom would you love if not God FIRST, as Christ commanded, and that with ALL your heart and soul and mind and strength (Matthew 22:38ff.); and further yet again, if you reject the love of God made manifest (I John 4:9), then you have rejected God, for God is love, and this is His demonstration, declaration and covenant, in Christ as His definitive image and exact expression of His nature! (Hebrews 1:1-3).
If you reject the source, you reject the content; if you do not receive the love of God, you reject what love is, and hence abide in darkness, whatever may be your pretensions. To be sure, you may have some reflected form of love, some residual content of love, but in rejecting the declaration of the One who is love, you are rejecting Him, and hence what He is!
In so doing, you reject His words. Unbelief in the face of the light of Christ thus fulfils love-loss, and this depicts a failure to keep His word. Those who do not believe, do not love God, and hence ALL of that category is included in the category, not loving Christ. As a result, they all do not keep His word.
Not believing means despising His love, rejecting it, defiling its denotation, aborting its presentation in your own heart, which brings you to His word again. SINCE then as an unbeliever, a person aborts His love, does not love Him therefore, ANY such does not keep His word. The ONLY other category is BELIEVING in Him, and as to these, "we love Him because He first loved us".
ALL unbelievers do not love Him; ALL believers love Him. Believers keep His word; unbelievers do not. Hence in this case we find that the reverse or contrary of this, If you do not love Me, you will not keep My word, is in fact correct. It follows from the nature of the case, which enables such a reversal from the integrity of the situation itself.
Thus even from the negative proposition of 14:23, we find: If you do not keep His word, you do not love Him. How much more is it so from the positive statement of 14:22. If you love, you keep; there is no exception. Therefore if you do not keep, you are excluded from the category which loves, all of which finds its place in the keep bin. You do not keep, you do not love.
Put differently, with the emphasis we have pursued from the negative proposition, just as a complement: You are thus captured on the one hand, through unbelief, in the bin of the unloving, so that you do not keep His word; or embraced on the other, through faith, in loving, so that you do keep His word. Since there are only these two categories, therefore if you do not keep His word, you do not love Him! You capitulate to Christ, believe and love, repent and are redeemed, are changed and thrust out by love, and enabled by His power, follow Him; or else you do not, and remain classified as unbeliever, hence divorcee from love, hence disenabled to follow Him, who is love.
What then ? Non-keepers are
non-lovers. As to that, remember I Corinthians 16:22. So far from being
strangely blessed, those not keeping His word are cursed! What would you expect
of the loveless ? They deny the very reality of life, the life of God, of the
Creator as well as the Judge, of the Saviour who loved and came and offered, and
proffered ... Himself!
But what does it MEAN, to KEEP HIS WORD ? Certainly it is not the WAY IN, but the RESULT OF ENTRANCE (Romans 3:23ff., Ephesians 2:1ff.). It is not at all a question of how you qualify; but of what God does when you do! It is not some secret category to incite fear; it is a reminder of the nature of what love is. But is not love forbearing ? Yes, but not blind: that is the passion of lust, not the light of truth.
TO KEEP HIS WORD ... then, what does this mean ?
LIBERTY OF LOVE
SOARS OVER THE PETTINESS OF SORDID STRIVING
It does not mean to be 'sinless' since I John 1:7ff. tells us equally categorically that if you think you have no sin, what you DO have is self-deception. It is one of those cases where the 'perfect' is 'blind' and the self-acclaimed is swathed in sin.
What then DOES it mean to keep His word ? It is not difficult. Let us imagine a child who falls sometimes, being a trifle clumsy, and skins his knee; who forgets a duty sometimes, and skins his reputation for being that perfect child; who is indiscrete sometimes, and has to learn obedience by correction; who even errs in honesty on some occasion, and feels the pangs and piercings of shame; but who loves his parents and righteousness, nevertheless. Do you like this child ?
Let us examine further. He loves ... It is his will to do right, to find goodness, to reflect the glory of God, to do what is honourable and composed in sanctity, but he scores not 100%
Already my heart is warming to him or her: there is no pretence, no self-deception, but rather a clarity of standards, an emotional attachment, a delight in duty, which, though not translated into perfect practice, is consolidating as he goes, maturing into strength without arrogance, allied to humility, living in realism.
Let us go further. The child throws up his arms and rebels. He has tried and failed too often; there is nothing in it, says he. He ceases to love, his former affection revealed as mere immature emotion. He becomes a rebel. So be it. The firstlings of light have become the latter day darkness in his life. Darkness never attracts me, but some live in it, by choice. It is only grace which delivers from it; for it is like glue.
On the other hand, let us pursue the
case with a different outcome. We have this same child, but in this
case, he realises his sinfulness, sees it as a problem, desires ardently its resolution, sees the Gospel, perceives that he is not yet covered by the sacrifice of Christ, not yet inhabited by His Spirit. is delighted with the prospect, his eyes opened in grace to see His face, receives the love of God in the salvation in Christ, and being transformed STILL IS NOT PERFECT! Yet he is radically changed. He now has the perfect power to overcome, and his character soars into settled and established righteousness, not his own, but that of Christ, donated at new birth, and active since Christ is both WITH IT, and IN HIM (Colossians 1:27, John 6:50-54 cf. The Biblical Workman, Love of Righteousness).
The lustre is the Lord's; the result is in himself. Just as Romans 1 speaks of the utterly disobedient in their rejection of the Lord of creation, and there puny worship of creation itself, leading to unspeakable deeds so that "committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due": they languish in darkness, aloof from the light of life (John 8:12); so does the opposite apply.
Thus Proverbs 14:14 declares this:
"The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself."
There is a pith in integrity, since the Lord CAUSES it, alone is perfect IN IT, and in Himself donates the peace and power, the prize and the lustre of truth and righteousness, lifting to His own premises, encouraging, stimulating, strengthening, illuminating, opening the eyes to the delicate texture of living relationship with Himself, and hence with others in His love and life.
On the other side, the tar of decline sticks as to shoes that walk in it, and has endless repercussions; but in profound contrariety, the light of life solaces the heart, enlivens the spirit, sensitises the conscience, establishes the life and settles the conduct. It is not perfection which results: leave that to the deluded. It is a character of truth, an emotion of integrity, a wisdom of witness, a walking in a light which is not merely illuminative, but leading like the cloud which led Israel, burning, like the bush which alerted Moses, never dimmed, never varying, always constant, more tender than a mother, more patient than a father, the source of those lovely features in any.
In I John 3:9, you see it summed up in result: He who is born of God does not make a practice of sin. Praise God, as in Romans 6, this is simply the case. It is the sublime, if imperfect, resultant. Trustworthy is the one who trusts in the Lord; and while he may slip, he WALKS aright, not slithering, but upright.
Such a man or such a woman, and indeed such a child, does not seek in striving self-elevation, or neurotic hope, to become a child of God! When you ARE born of God, you do not worry about whether you are born. In all my born days, I have not been seriously perturbed by any 'possibility' that I was not born. The evidence was continual, constant, always affirmed subjectively, objectively, directly, indirectly, by observation of like things and by knowledge.
When one is BORN OF GOD, there is no real need to wonder about it. If it happened, it happened; if you believed, you believed, if you received Him in repentance you did so, and if you did not, you did not; and if you are not sure, like someone unsure whether he married, it seems likely it is time you MADE SURE, by receiving in deliberate faith the Lord, His Gospel and His covenant. If you ARE a believer, the reassurance of realisation will be an exercise in faith; and if you are not, the impossibility of exercising what is not there will occur to you. In that case, it is time to repent and receive the Lord in that deliberate desperation, that incited acclaim which accepts the Prince of Peace for what He is, and oneself for what one is, and finds in His passage, the way in to what never leaves (John 10:9,27-28).
Isaiah put it well, "All our righteousnesses are as filthy rages" - Isaiah 64:6; and it is then, when one ceases to try to QUALIFY for the Kingdom of Heaven in order to enter, but ACCEPTS the One who HAS the qualifications, and vicariously made them available, and is willing to serve Him as Lord, since He is God, that the new birth comes (cf. John 1:12, John 3). In this, one has "the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5ff.), and this is the kind of washing you are not going to forget! For as Paul puts it, Behold, all things have become new! (II Corinthians 5:14ff.). No, one does not forget when one is born.
Born with this birth is such a love as I John describes, such a delight as Peter depicts (I Peter 1:7ff.), and wrought in this inheritance is strength in which one lives (Ephesians 3:16). One is not deflected by some error, but repents; one is not affected by some success, but delights in God and praises Him. As a CHILD of God, one lives by and with one's Father, depending on Him, not on oneself, for indeed as Proverbs 28:16 puts it, "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool."
He, on the other hand, who trusts in Him shall never be ashamed (Romans 10:11). "For the scripture says, Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed."
EVILS THAT ABOUND, LOST LOVE
AND UNFAITHFULNESS THAT ASTOUNDS
Now we come to that triple sequence, in this specialised regard. IF EVIL ABOUNDS (as in this end of the Age it was predicted by Christ to do, as we also have seen in an earlier chapter - Matthew 24:12), THEN THE LOVE OF MANY GROWS COLD. That is the prediction which we examined in Ch. 5, above.
THEN, SINCE the love has grown cold, many things result. It is our present task to examine one of them, and to find it nestling in sordid disarray, in the dirtied nest of this end of the Age environment, confirming it with all the rest of the symptoms of that syndrome predicted for it, traced in perfect accuracy by Jesus Christ in Matthew 24, and Luke 21 for example.
ONE of the things resulting is that BECAUSE love has grown cold, THEREFORE the word of the Lord is NOT going to be kept. Directly, if you do NOT love Him, you will not keep His word; and indirectly, if you do not keep His word you do not love Him. LOVE is impounded; OBEDIENCE is confounded.
Is this being seen in this generation ? Does this characteristic hit one, like the return of Israel to its land, or the lovelessness itself, examined in Ch. 5, or the endless talk of war, and work of war ? Do we empirically FIND that there is a rampaging from the word of God, repression, suppression, excision, confusion, ignorance where rebellion has surfed already far enough, together with a scavenger hunt for substitutes, syncretism and hauteur, a careless indifference or an audacious thrust, but always in one way, like little waves and vast breakers in one ocean: ALL COMING IN, and in one direction.
Let us see.
Firstly, there is the abortion of
truth which has already been noted, at the denominational level,
We have often considered this
synthetic substitute for truth, this decline and indeed declination;
The outcome and output is becoming so vast
that the decline in major denominations
This however is far from being all. In terms of neo-evangelicism, which has been a movement tending to emphasise what matters most, to get on with it, to avoid confrontation, and the like, but has sunk into something so different that even this divergence and diversification alone is a major symptom of the LOVE GROWING COLD, which in turn is a criterion of the final phase of the Church Age, noted from the lips of Jesus Christ.
Thus, even in a denomination which the author held his ordination for decades, there has been a movement on CREATION so vast, that incredible subjectivities are being exchanged for biblical objectivities, and poetic impulses are being thrust into creation itself. It is one thing for some ministers to be somewhat fey on this or that; it is quite another when a denomination dignifies the fruits of confusion and the fallen limbs of unbelief, with a standard position which it adopts, however varied its options. For this, see Answers to Questions Ch. 8.
More broadly, there is a willingness to have female elders, as cultural pressures mount (cf. Assault on Timothy), which seen in the light of the mono-natural unbelief so prominent in our day, as in the last phases of decline traced in Romans 1, is a mere nothing. However, seen in the light of the word of God, it is simple rebellion. WHY SHOULD NOT ... ? has always been the answer to God; just as little children will do much the same, if in pouting mood and assertive mode, with parents.
However, when God both states what is His desire, and as here, gives His reasons, it is simply a matter of faith, to see it and do it; or unbelief, not to do so. You had the same sort of naturalistic feeling in Israel again and again, when they made a mess of following Moses, and brought untold shame at sham (cf. Numbers 11:1-22, Leviticus 10, Numbers 14, 16). In the process of procuring their desire, their unloving lust, their childish-seeming pre-occupation with this world and its ways, their own will and its wit and wisdom, their severance from divine knowledge and trust in human occupations, they missed the promised land! Unfortunate ? Undoubtedly.
For 40 years they wallowed in the desert, preserved, but excluded from the land to which they were, after all, supposed to be journeying. In that case, their children went in ... after that generation ... went!
Went ? no, not into the land, but to the terminus of that, their little day on earth. They passed away. That was the alternative to going in. Here is the profound parallel with the Gentile Age. The intimacy with that case in our generation is close.
THIS IS THAT DAY. It is not for some other time, some other fealty. If there is faith, there is KEEPING HIS WORD; for faith brings salvation which brings love which brings obedience. Faith indeed WORKS BY LOVE (Galatians 5:6). You cannot have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ without it; and with it, you keep His word!
Harsh ? Not really, for His word is not grievous, as I John 5:3-5 declares.
"For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments:
and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.
"Who is he that overcomes the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God ?"
There is inherent in the power, covenant, comradeship, presence, enabling, ennobling of the Lord, in His pardon and in His peace, in His kindness and in His understanding, such an impetus and such a love that a characteristic following of Him is as natural as it is for any faithful hound to follow the hunter with whom he is associated. Some ass of a dog who thought he was perfect, would be intolerable in the actualities of this present life. But some defiant dog who had not heart, would be far more so!
It is not hard to be a child of God, though it may involve much buffeting and the fruits of self-discipline, and where necessary, divine discipline (Hebrews 12). But what would you ? To be a child with a daft father who did not discipline, in love, with understanding would be an atrocity! The discipline of God is not lax nor is it severe; it is apt.
We thus return to our basic thrust here, that there is a COLDNESS of love, if indeed you could call it love at all, which is shown in a FAILURE TO KEEP HIS WORD. The vast decline of denominations is epochal and brings and breeds much concern, though such is the sweep of the falling away which Paul predicted (II Thessalonians 2), that many silently, like a ship moving immovably into the whirl of some whirl-pool, are becoming inoculated to rebellion and accustomed to following false shepherds with false words, another Christ, another Gospel and indeed, even in many cases, another Spirit, just as Paul declared in II Corinthians 11.
But there is more to it, even than this. Thus you find many who make it a point of HONOUR not to obey God on the little matter of KEEPING HIS DAY OF REST! It is said to be legalistic to obey, and in some way a decline in spiritual grace to see that Exodus 20 in stating that BECAUSE God made us in this way, in six days, THEREFORE we are to rest on one, is not fudging but forcing the issue. Does someone want to disagree with God ?
Perhaps such a person would like to remake the head, or the shape of the earth as well ?
Just as God has performed now His
greatest work for man,
so His original creation of man
remains what it was, and this restoration
CREATION is the keynote, from the
first in construction, or in recreation at the last;
But rest, bother to rest as
commanded from the constitution and creation of man ?
Did God then err in so speaking ? ( cf. It Bubbles … Chs. 9, 11, Little Things Ch. 5, SMR p. 973A, 999, 100ff., Repent or Perish Chs. 2, 7, Barbs, Arrows and Balms 6 -7, Answers to Questions Ch. 5). Is man ready to instruct Him, from his ever changing 'science', whose word has stood unique, inerrant, unbending, because truth from the first, for millenia! Is a dream world to constitute a cardinal direction of the baseless thought of self-measuring man ?
Or is His factual base deemed wrong ? (cf. SMR pp. 140ff., TMR Ch. 1).
Is then His reasoning in Exodus 20:8-11 to be dismissed by serious pedants, scribes of philosophy ? (SMR Chs. 3, 5), and will they amend the mathematics of Him who changes
not (Malachi 3:6, Psalm 102), on the basis of proud pedants, philosophers instructing God, people whose words mire each other, no generation standing before its successors! who can find no truth by which to tell us, abstracted in conundrums, relativised by absolutes they cannot know, even on their own models!
But let us come to closer quarters with the derelictions evident even in some churches! The end result is one, and the world shrieks, strains, thrusts, desires, urges for this one, one, one, denaturising what it may, ignoring what it can, creating what it will; and a vital part of the demolition activity for the new skyscrapers of the man of sin, the antichrist, the devil's messiah is the confusion or delusion of what are called churches, the more the better. Let us consider this aspect again for a moment in terms of the so popular breach of the day of rest, even by many who call themselves Christian.
Did Christ's provision of rest for the future, demean the necessities of rest deriving from the past, or is the consummation here already ?
Is the future the past ? (Colossians 2:16-17), or is the fulfilment of what is to come in heaven the derailing of what is past ? Is salvation creation ? or are sabbaths which were multiplied in Old Testament ritual in their emplacements, the same as THE sabbath, the ordained day inherent in man's creation (Exodus 20)! Or is the testimony of the end, to become the anti-testimony of the beginning, to smash the fact, to revamp history and to re-organise the thought of God ?
Sabbath simply means rest, and the rest in THAT one day in seven -
the very engagement ring of Israel (Ezekiel 20:18-21), as basic within the 10 commandments, as is prohibition of theft (other theft, that is, than the theft of the Lord's day from HIM! and His use for it as in Isaiah 58:13-14) -
is as consistent with man as are his neurons!
It can be removed when man is removed from his KIND!
It is as sure as creation, and statedly ordained because of it, in its own terms is as deep as DNA, and inherent as the spirit in man. Undo creation, and you can undo that its schema and the provisions for its care. Undo re-creation and you can ignore the Lord's day, and despise the work of God, though the Lord was careful not to ignore it (John 20:19, 20:26, I Corinthians 16:2, , Acts 2:1, 20:7). Indeed, it was not possible for them to ignore the new day of rest, since without the resurrection there was distress, and in the resurrected presence of Christ, there was automatic worship. Deface the Lord, then, or follow that regimen, and ignore the way of His day ... ? It is a species of option, but one not to be chosen where the word of God rules.
Is then the removal of what is fulfilled in Christ, the symbolism, to include our creation, and the word which declares that in VIEW OF IT, this is how we must act: is this to be annulled by gratuitous theology, sky-diving without the altitude ? Is scripture to be forfeit, is II Timothy 3:16 to be revoked, is man to pre-empt the word of God, and give sly devaluation for the specialised and superb communion that Isaiah 58 shows the day fosters, and Moses the creation requires ?
Or is redemption a fulfilment of creation ? Is the mind to be permanently turned off! (Cf. Biblical Blessings Appendix I, II and III.)
Is this to be done despite Christ's most explicit statement that HE DID NOT COME TO DESTROY THE LAW OR THE PROPHETS, but to FULFIL! Do you fulfil by ignoring ? Does He fulfil creation on the cross! Is the affair of sin the dynamic of creation! Creation then, does He perhaps annul it ? In saving persons, does He undo their very institution ? On the contrary, Colossians 3:10 tells us that He restores them! according to the IMAGE OF HIM WHO CREATED THEM! Annul ? He declares He will annul nothing. What He fulfils, He fulfils; but annul ? The category gets zero (Matthew 5:17-20).
How much more can He be contradicted ? Did not Isaiah 58 spell out in vain the spiritual realities of rest in the Lord, in terms not merely of the generic rest, always available to His people (cf. Psalm 95, Isaiah 63:14), but of the use of the day!
So does man philosophise, talking away from the concrete case, just as Satan did in Eden, to some general position of words of wisdom, substituting for clear commandments, simple rebellion, dressed in some tilt or talk of wit.
This decline makes it worse than mere disobedience, mere prostitution of the Lord's day of rest for the restlessness of what is NOT for His sake, for His kingdom, for His pleasure, but for one's own (cf. Isaiah 58:13-14). It becomes not only a matter of doing this, of dodging duty, but of approving those who do likewise, of trumpeting this folly as if it were faith, of making severe decline into a sanctity of rebellion, an issue of praise out of a fall, yes failure to be a very example. It is as if a child who fell and scoured his knee were to say,
Look! see how well I fell. Let me show you just how I did it, and then you can do it too.
This dodging of issues, contrast between formal appearance and actual fact, in terms of the word of God is found in multiplied cases, some even more severe. It is well illustrated in a novel by Martin Cruz Smith, called simply ROSE.
There we see a delicious and typical example in his tracing of the character of an extremely wealthy and not unduly sensitive Bishop in the 19th century, one whose family owned coal mines which were scarcely models of the humane. Right at the end, in a subtle context, he has the Bishop point out that there are ways of 'accepting' things, for example the concept of Eve being formed out of the rib of Adam.
The WAY in view is obviously, in the context, NOT to accept it, but to take it to be applicable in some way to a situation in which EVE WAS NOT so formed. Indeed, in the context, in the parallel apparently in view, it was just the same. Whereas a man who had been deemed dead was apparently writing a letter, and the question arose, did the Bishop believe this account: he evidently did not, but was quite satisfied with what DID happen, according to his own understanding, and not to probe.
The amusing thing here, of course, is twofold. First of all, the 'rib' as translated in the AV, as Professor E.J. Young, that grand scholar, pointed out, can mean 'side'. The point is not essential, but of interest.
Secondly, NOW that we KNOW about DNA and cloning, the concept of taking some part of MAN for the creation of an entirely correlative FEMALE is precisely right and knowledgeable, brilliant and correct!
Yet the point lies deeper even than this. God said He did it this way.
In a context of utter
(as traced in detail in A
Spiritual Potpourri Ch. 9, and TMR
Appendix I , moving from the
income of creation to the outcome in man and in Abraham, in covenant and in
Christ (cf. Romans 5, which traces it integrally to salvation, one Adam
down, one Christ up, as also in I Corinthians 15, where the contrast in
intimate detail is sustained continually),
there is a statement about how God did it.
It is not a literal or a metaphorical issue; for if He created metaphorically, He did not create, but create He did and emphasises this to the depth of His being, to the confrontation with the defiant (Isaiah 45:9-12,18, Revelation 4:11), and He pillories those who try to make man derivative of life, not of God (Jeremiah 3:27).
HE CREATED MAN, He declares, and this means that the entire formulation, formation and force of creation was HIS OWN ACT, and not something shared with anybody or anything. He did it alone (Isaiah 44:6,24-26, 45:18, Colossians 1:15ff., John 1:3). If it was made, HE made it. There is no other agency in creation.
WHAT He took for it, He states; what He did was creation. What resulted in life, was KIND. Man is a KIND. That is His word.
If then He declares that dust was the physical sub-stratum, does He perchance mean NOT DUST ? If not, it would be contrary to both His word and the evidence! (cf. SMR pp. 140ff., TMR Ch. 1). Or if He made woman by assimilating part of man to a new act of creation, does this mean that He did NOT so make woman ? Or if He declares that man is a sinner, does this mean, as the Crystal Palace may seem to have sought to have it, that man is NOT a sinner ? Or if He declares that salvation is divorced from our own works, and correlative to the creation itself (II Corinthians 4:4, Romans 3:23-27), does this perhaps have some metaphorical profusion which allows one to take it to mean that one is saved by one's own works, and that salvation is not correlative to creation, even though it is a "new creation" which indeed results ?
Deny any part of Romans 5, and why not another ? Invent God's word for Him, and why bother to use His name ? Because it is great ? perhaps ... that would seem useful ? if unscrupulous. Plagiarism is one thing; publication of another article under the name of the author is worse.
Does yes mean no ? Does philosophy find a way to PRETEND to believe what God says, and yet disbelieve it ? Is this any better than the way of ancient Israel, who DREW NEAR with their lips, but in their hearts were far from Him ? (Isaiah 29:13). Does it vary at all from the practice of making traditions which annul the word of God (Mark 7:7ff.) ?
Does not God know ? and is He to be assumed to tell us what He wants us to know so that what He declares is the case, the beginnings are other than depicted, the principles other than announced, His way different from what He declares, as if He could not speak clearly! The concept that man was such a dunce that He needed a fuddled word for him to understand it is clearly a myth, even from the day Ebla's wits were found (in Syria, dated around 2300 B.C. long before Moses, and even before Abraham, where much culture and intellectual cuteness, knowledge of law, mathematics and contrivance, legal and commercial, was found)!
Is it not enough that a man, a mere creation equipped with spirit by grace, enshrined in sin by disgrace, in and of himself void of respect (Romans 7:18), should patronise and pettifog with man: that he should dare to try it, even with God! (cf. Isaiah 7:12ff.), like devious Ahab of old.
In our tracing, then, of the loss of
faithfulness, the loss of obedience, the NOT KEEPING the word of Christ, in our
Age, which is a sure and Christ-declared RESULT of NOT LOVING, we are seeing
more and more not alone the great decline in professing Christianity which has
been predicted by Peter (II Peter 1), by Paul (II Thess. 2), and by Christ
We find here nothing less than a BIBLICAL RESULT of a love which grows cold. We would clinically EXPECT, on the basis of that prophecy of Christ, about love's reduced temperature, tepidity, coldness indeed, to find abundant evidence of His word not being kept in some striking fashion, correlative to His prediction about this love syndrome.
We have found it not only in denominational decline and attempts to combine Christianity with other religions, with fallen sects like that of Romanism, with joint prayer in such cases and fellowship, in mutual acceptance of those who once knew better, but in the general swim of theological culture. This in increasing arrogance, despises commandments, whether about a day of rest or a way of life, seen in such ways as having homosexual pastors (I Timothy 1:10). In terms of contradiction of biblical principle, or indeed in accepting biblical principles of beginnings ... or, of course ends, this has as much affinity for the Bible they consider, as there would be between the parties, if the CIA hired Putin!*1
The rebellion has surged and comes as a tidal wave in our day.
It was found in liberalism, with its ranting and irrationality, affirming what is disproven, delirious with disdain, inventing contradictions, contradicting assertions, philosophising with aplomb, stooping to any level to discredit what, as always, stands vindicated and sublime, like lofty mountains when the steam-train puffs it way past (cf. SMR pp. 67ff., 377ff., 1185ff.).
It was found in the next infection of neo-orthodoxy, which affirmed magnificence, but not anything too magnificent about the actual speech of the Bible, changing definitions and keeping to old phrases, like expert lawyers, disreputable yet popular; but this passed, and it was found in existentialism, which wanted to affirm the essential human will ingredient, the intent more than the extent of reality, and this was a subjectivist illusion, based on man without base, and signifying nothing, but it passed.
In the theological currents of the river of life, it was followed by neo-evangelicism (or neo-evangelicalism as it may prefer to be called in a lunge for syllabification), where the FORM of words was affirmed, as predicted in II Timothy 3:1-5. In this case, it came to be not so much was a denial of their existence or standing, or some reconstruction as it were, after nuking them with licence: rather, it was in a simpler mode. This time it was to be largely a failure to DO them. Yet that, as has been shown above with some labour, is precisely the point, the prophetic datum required!
You would smile and say how wonderful it all was, but that really, you know, you need psychology and savvy, and to keep the church going, and to watch your step, so you do not actually find it always necessary to DO things which would make trouble, cause waves, upset culture too much or cause loss. Indeed, such things increasingly are found unsavoury, unspiritual and unprofitable. That is the schema which seems to sit, like a crown on a beggar, on this way of things.
It is a case of taking up your cross, and putting in some safe place, as a reference, as a guide, an inspiration; not of carrying it and following Him, or keeping to what He actually has said.
Writhing like a serpent, the various Sadducaisms of our day, and the day before, have unfolded their curves and curved their followings in their paths. But they pass; and only the word of God remains, and with it, the prediction that this departure from doctrine, from the word of God, this devious ecclesiastical substitution for the ways of faith, would come, would augment, would flow like a stream, and wash throughout the world. It has done so.
We find the fruits of this cultural synthesis likewise in international aspirations to bypass divine morality with human explosions of thought, as if the actuality of events could create obligation to confront them, or factuality could deploy rectitude, or description invent prescription; yet they wallow in endless moves to take over actuality, with dreams, just as in the days of Jeremiah (cf. 23:23-25)*1.
These things proliferate like a mouse plague, screen the sky like locusts, are not found by some kind of diligent search in rat-holes, but adorn the globe like seaweed on the beaches, and leave no doubt of their presence, likewise!
Where is the judgment ? they cry. We shall change the laws, alter the ways, bring in alternate morality, parallel the Courts of the land which make new 'interpretations' of the constitution in flamboyant contradiction of what it actually says, since this is their assessment of the sort of thing that the nation WOULD have said, if it COULD have said, what WAS said when the Constitution was written; or there 'arise' other vile pretensions of such mutative kinds.
IMAGINATION IS HOT, BUT LOVE IS
and His Time is Near
Man has imagination ? Yes. It is well to use it ? Like all good things, wisely, yes. What then of the trend which has just been traced ? This is imaginative ? Yes, and more, it is rebellion. It is not necessary, WHEN using imagination, to foist its works on another name; and it is far less so, if possible, to foist its thoughts on the name of God, or to seek to invest its fabrications in some subtle sense, serpentine in spirit, into the Bible; nor is it wise to add these things by way of flat contradiction of principle, precept and wisdom, of report, of injunction and demand there found. It is always easy, if an employe, to write your own job specifications. It would be more honest, however, to do so BEFORE being employed. After all, if your specifications are the reverse of those actually sought, is it at all likely you would be employed at all!
But many in churches disdain their vows, alter the constitutions they found binding, riot against their provisions, if they can't, and so 'rob churches' of more than money. Indeed, without money and often without principle, they make aggressive take-over bids for churches.
Alas, the cold love and the breach of command, not only in doctrine, but in PRACTICAL REFUSAL TO DO what you are told, mounts like a hot wind, and scorches, withering the grass, and rendering arid the planet.
It is just as predicted in II Peter 3, and where is the idea of His actual return, for the future, and as to the past, where is the flood! (cf. News 1). Peter actually predicted this combination of rebellious rumination for the ruinations lurking for the end, in 3:3-5.
They think of this earth as the precious possession to be preserved, including diminishing species, and this philosophic milieu as the uttermost, this terrestrial ball as the finale, except for callowly sought space parallels*2. So do they ignore God, even the God whom many assay to worship, as though He and His word were the last thing to think about, when you come to Him, and the real point was just this, man the race, man the species, man the life and man the way. He is manning his theology until it becomes humanism in sacred robes, mysticism in muddied thought and idolatry in spiritual garb.
Love has grown cold, the word of God accordingly is lightly esteemed, and far more, it is not being DONE increasingly. It is not merely omitted, but often the opposite is wrought with panache and spirituality as if sanctimony could become sanctity by simply making your own religion, and opening some book called the Bible, as a sort of traditional flavour to the finesse.
But DO IT! What do it! Find yourself obligated in some way to perform what is written, to follow it, to implement it! Again and again we find in the church, that there is this or that which the Bible declares, which is NOT acceptable. Some pastors adapt ... We dare not, for we BELIEVE in Him, whom we love, and seek to FOLLOW Him, not as leaders of Christ, but those led!
That however is merely the geiger counter, if you will, in its finding. The important point for our present theme is this, that ONE of the signals of His NEAR return, is a CONSEQUENCE of the one itemised in Matthew 24. It is this: DEPARTURE from the word of God as a RESULT of the love growing cold. It is of course also specifically predicted, as well as by implication, as you see in II Peter 2, in I Timothy 4, in II Timothy 3, in Matthew 24:24, in II Thessalonians 2, in Jeremiah 23:16-20.
Let us conclude with that reference, Jeremiah 23:20-29. It is mossed over with antiquity, but glares like a light undimmed, an exposé of Israel's sins, in terms of just such departures from the word of God, either by false prophets being followed or by disinclination directly, or both; for this USED Israel's case, to show that this trend would become DOMINANT at the end of the Age, before Christ's predicted rule came (cf. Jeremiah 23:6).
"Thus says the Lord of hosts:
"Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you.
They make you worthless;
They speak a vision of their own heart,
Not from the mouth of the Lord.
"They continually say to those who despise Me,
‘The Lord has said, 'You shall have peace';
And to everyone who walks according to the dictates of his own heart, they say,
‘No evil shall come upon you.’
"For who has stood in the counsel of the Lord,
And has perceived and heard His word?
marked His word and heard it?
"Behold, a whirlwind of the Lord has gone forth in fury—
A violent whirlwind!
It will fall violently on the head of the wicked.
The anger of the Lord will not turn back
Until He has
executed and performed the thoughts of His heart.
latter days you will understand it perfectly.
"I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran.
I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.
But if they had stood in My counsel,
And had caused My people to hear My words,
Then they would have turned them from their evil way
And from the evil of their doings.
" 'Am I a God near at hand," says the Lord,
'And not a God afar off?
Can anyone hide himself in secret places,
So I shall not see him?' says the Lord;
'Do I not fill heaven and earth?' says the Lord.
"I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in My name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’
"How long will this be in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies? Indeed they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart, who try to make My people forget My name by their dreams which everyone tells his neighbor, as their fathers forgot My name for Baal.
" 'The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream;
And he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully.
What is the chaff to the wheat?' says the Lord.
'Is not My word like a fire?' says the Lord,
'And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?' "
It is all moving like clockwork, the
destitution, the depravity, the gravity of falling, the coldness of the lost,
the repetition of the very decline of Israel of old, the fulfilment of Old and
New Testament prediction, the multiplication of gods, the gods of naturalism,
the syncretism of religions, the ceaseless repetition of rebellion, the securing
of ever new ways of doing that old thing, double speaking, double mindedness,
rebellion with subtlety, mounting like the wind, till the tornado strikes, and
the people ask, Why did not the meteorological bureau warn of this ?
What is the thing FOR!
But the warning IS there. His TIME, it is near. The warning is out these millenia; the data are in now.
YET GOD’S LOVE IS NOT COLD!
Yet if any, no matter what the decline, seek the incline (Philippians 3:13-14); if any, however far off the galavanting, galloping, and however fast the gyrations activated by cultural capitulation, following false prophets, be they Moslem or sectarian, secular or psychic, yet desire reality and count no cost too great to obtain it (Jeremiah 29:13); if any seek the Lord (Isaiah 5:1-6); if any seek the Father’s house and are done with the testimony of intractable fraud, convenient practice, pragmatic compromise, and desire the ineffable purity of the Lord: then the way is there. COME to ME (Matthew 11:28-30), does not mean GO from Me! It is an exhortation but also a command.
Will Christ then reject your coming when He calls ? or will He say NO, when He
is on record to declare, He who comes to Me I shall in
no way cast out
(John 6:37)? Will He shut the door when He invites to enter (John 10:9, 5:39-40), and inveighs against NOT doing so ? Lamentations 3:22 puts it squarely: “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions do not fail.”
Will His compassions fail when He DECLARES,
¨ “But on this one will I look, On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My Word!” (Isaiah 66:2).
HOW poor ?
Is it not poverty enough that you repent, relent, desire, aspire, ask, call, seek to rely on His covenant, on His blood, on His mercy;
for He has not forgotten to be gracious (Psalm 77:9), nor lost hearing that He should not hear! (Psalm 145:19).
It is the imperious, the impervious, the unsurrendered who will not and in the end cannot rely on His mercy, or accept His pardon, it is these who are too large to fit in the door (Matthew 19:24), who have no faith in the depth of His love which drove nails into His plan and into His hands and feet, stainless steel into His resolve to complete the atonement and unutterable power into His resurrection that all might see and know and believe!
It is NOT YOU, or your love or your purity or your anything which is needed as a contribution to salvation; it is written that “Salvation is of the Lord,” (Jonah 2:9 cf. Psalm 68:20 – “Our God is the God of salvation”, Revelation 7:10), “salvation belongs to the Lord” (Psalm 3:8); and this not mean that it is of YOU! Cease from man (Isaiah 2:22), and from yourself (Proverbs 28:16), then, for if your heart condemns you, God is greater than your heart (I John 3:20). “Cast your burden on the Lord and HE will sustain you” (Psalm 55:22); ASK and you will receive (Matthew 7).
More, those who do so come and do enter through Him in this way, they not only become His sheep, but go in and out and find pasture (John 10:9); as it did not depend on them, this salvation, so it does not; and they shall neither be suffered to perish nor to be snatched out of His hand, by ANY agency, within or without (John 10:27-28). Changed, they are cleansed, cleansed their chastening is as needed, and of the Lord is their salvation in its entirety. He does not beget children by co-operation with the child; and what is His, He keeps (Romans 5:1-11).
Return to the Lord (Joel 2:13), draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4:6).
“So rend your heart, and not your garments;
Return to the Lord your God,
For He is gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger, and of great kindness;
And He relents from doing harm.”
Even where a whole generation must face judgment, as did Israel of old (in irrevocable severity after centuries of folly – (Ezekiel 14:14,20), and indeed even in the very midst of that judgment, consider Daniel, whose deliverances were massive, needed to be, and were because God is willing to hear the faintest cry, if it be of faith, to act on the grain as of a mustard seed, of faith, to move mountains (Mark 11).
It is not because He is unwilling that He came, it is not because He has lost heart that He is on record that He WOULD have all be reconciled to Himself: BE RECONCILED therefore, one to One, and forsake judgment with joy (Isaiah 55:6), since His pardon is abundant, His love to those who capitulate, consummate, His friendship to those who follow, like that of a Shepherd, even one who has laid down his life.
So does He from generation to generation, offer mercy without limit to those who come in repentance, by faith receiving the covenant in His blood, believing in His power, alert to His resurrection from the grave, not in form but in fact, not in word but in deed, not to demonstrate irrelevance but to authenticate faith (cf. Luke 24:39, John 20:27), to provide justification through the atonement that was from God alone; and so does HE NOT CAST OUT what so comes to Him, trembling at His word, a child to the Father, contrite to His compassion, trusting in His mercy (Psalm 52:8).
Always, in all things and at all times, He is Himself, rich in mercy, unwilling that any should perish, slow to anger, liberal in compassion (Lamentations 3:22); but when once His wrath is aroused, and when once His truth is despised, and when the heart is hardened, and the day of grace is scorned, then judgment can come, and indeed will come on this world, like an axe to the tree. It is not however necessary to forget His love in order to remember His justice, or to imagine that He has lost His temper because He will not lose His truth; indeed His mercy is in truth, and His compassions do not fail.
Rebellion on the other hand, this is not the repository of compassion; but the server for judgment.
It comes like the noon, when the dawn is lit; it comes because enduring scorn scoffs at endless mercy, and ‘gods’ will not receive the sacrifice of the God who made us, for the sin we made (Ezekiel 28:9).
On all these things, see Cascade ... Ch. 10, News 121, 122, 152, It Bubbles ... Ch. 11, Of the Earth ... Ch. 10, Stepping out for Christ... Ch. 9, Ancient Words ... Ch. 9, More Marvels ... Ch. 4, A Question of Gifts, Section VII.
*2 See on this, A Spiritual Potpourri Chs. 1-3.